A hardcopy of the Australian Journal of Biography and History can be purchased from ANU Press.
Each of the articles in this issue of the Australian Journal of Biography and History uses biography to illustrate historical themes and to add texture to historical episodes. Patricia Clarke examines the role of four women journalists who were recruited by the Australian Government to tour operational bases in eastern Australia during a critical phase in the Pacific War. Lyndon and Lyne Megarrity, in their article on the two wives of the Queensland businessman and later premier Robert Philp, use the biographies of Jessie (née Bannister; 1856–90), and Mina (née Munro; 1867–1940) to illustrate the changes in the role of elite Queensland women over the relatively short period of a decade.
The next two articles consider the problems of constructing biographies of those who are essentially invisible in the historical record. Melanie Nolan, Christine Fernon and Rebecca Kippen discuss the ‘first-fleeter’ Sarah Bellamy’s seemingly ‘insignificant life’ to illustrate various aspects of the British colonisation of the continent. The biography of the Boonwurrung man Kurrburra (1797–1849) forms the subject of the contribution by Ian Clark, Rolf Schlagloth, Fred Cahir and Gabrielle McGinnis. By setting out to consider the whole of Kurrburra’s life rather than only the moments of contact (or conflict) with colonial society, he can be re-presented as one who was respected and important in his Aboriginal community, and who managed, negotiated and sought to control his interactions with the colonising forces.
Sophie Scott-Brown, in her article on the British Marxist historian Raphael Samuel, considers the utility of biography in relation to intellectual history, and the relationship between what she terms ‘cultural persona’ and the empirical personality. By contrast, Michael Davis’s biographical portrait of the anthropologist Leonhard Adam reveals a figure who some viewed as an outsider, but whose works on Aboriginal art were highly successful. In his study of the Australian delegation to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, David Lee looks at the men who between them forcefully asserted Australia’s position, and thus contributed to the country’s consolidation as an independent nation-state during the inter-war period. In the final article, Stephen Wilks argues that biography is founded on human agency, and that political history is ‘rich in interpersonal interaction’.